Designing Fisheries Management Policies that Conserve Marine Species Diversity in the Northern South China Sea

Designing Fisheries Management Policies that Conserve Marine Species Diversity in the Northern South China Sea

William W.L. Cheung and Tony J. Pitcher

Designing Fisheries Management Policies that Conserve Marine Species Diversity in the Northern South China SeaThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Description

This study suggests that, under data-limited conditions, dynamic ecosystem models can be used to explore fishery management policies that aim to conserve biodiversity. The northern South China Sea is a highly diverse ecosystem where rapid expansion of fisheries and limited management has depleted resources and threatened marine biodiversity over the past five decades. Designation of marine protected areas has been suggested to be an effective and risk-averse tool to conserve and restore marine biodiversity and fishery resources. Here, a dynamic ecosystem model (Ecosim and Ecospace) was constructed using information from sporadic surveys, historical records, literature, and global databases. Effects of a two-month seasonal trawl ban set up in 1998 by the People’s Republic of China were evaluated using dynamic spatial simulations; results suggest that this is insufficient to sustain fishery resources and maintain biodiversity. Our work suggests that a combination of large marine protected areas and effective effort reduction would be necessary to maintain fishery resources and biodiversity. Our model provides quantitative support for the demand for stronger fishery management actions.

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